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Accountants fear financial advice requests

Accountants fear financial advice requests

Accountants are becoming concerned that growing demand for personal financial advice from clients is putting them at risk of exceeding their professional expertise.

High net-worth retirement lending adviser Bower Private Clients commissioned a survey of 105 accountants last month, and found 36 per cent had experienced an increase in demand for financial advice in the past 12 months.

This growth in demand is causing concern, with 31 per cent of the accountants asked saying they are worried some of the advice they are giving goes beyond their core expertise; with 6 per cent stating they have gone ahead and provided detailed financial advice themselves.

Almost half, 45 per cent, of the accountants polled believe their work with independent financial advisers will increase over the next 24 months as a result of recent changes to pension rules.

Pension advice was described by 78 per cent of accountants as an area where clients were looking for help, followed by 61 per cent stating income and capital gains tax mitigation and 60 per cent suggesting clients requested help with inheritance tax planning.

A third of accountants received enquiries on accessing property wealth and equity release.

Soon after last year’s at-retirement reforms the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales suggested the changes have become a catalyst for “expertise sharing” between accountants and advisers, who both need to learn more about their peers’ specialisms to properly assist clients.

The institute’s technical manager for financial planning and advice John Gaskell explained as accountants are already the first port of call for many on issues like inheritance tax and pension tax they already have trusted relationships with many older people.

Sheriar Bradbury, managing director of Bradbury Hamilton, said his firm has certainly been getting a lot of business through accountants recently and predicts this will continue to be a big growth area going forward.

“We’ve had a joint venture with an Essex-based firm called Raffingers since 2010 and that has been a good relationship,” he added.

peter.walker@ft.com